As the old saying goes—if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
At least that’s the case with a phone scam that is currently circulating the area where victims are told they have won the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes.
The Fremont Police Department is advising residents to be aware of the phone scam – in which the victim receives a phone call that he or she is the winner of the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes and has won a cash award or perhaps a new car.
The scammers then instruct the victim to send a sum of money to pay for fees and taxes for delivery of the award.
The Publishers Clearing House does not notify sweepstakes winners by phone and does not collect money for fees or taxes.
According to FPD, residents receiving such a call are encouraged to hang up and not provide the caller with any personal information such as banking account information or credit card information.
Residents who believe they may have been a victim of this scam or any other scam are encouraged to contact the department at 402-727-2677.
Other common phone scams—which have been reported locally in recent months—can involve scammers posing as representatives of the IRS, as well as the use of “spoof calls” to bilk money from unsuspecting victims.
Earlier this year, FPD received numerous reports of the internal revenue scam making its rounds in the area.
In the scam, area residents reported phone calls from the IRS about unpaid taxes. The recipient of the call was told to send money via a prepaid card, gift card or wire transfer.
The IRS will not call regarding unpaid taxes without sending a bill in the mail first. Furthermore, the IRS would not demand that any unpaid taxes be paid by a wire transfer or gift cards, or ask for debit or credit card numbers or checking account information over the phone.
“Spoofing” occurs when a caller deliberately falsifies the information transmitted to your caller ID display to disguise their identity, according to information released by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
In May, Methodist Fremont Health received several reports of calls that showed up on caller ID as coming from Methodist Fremont Health, but were in fact illegitimate.
Information released by the FCC gives tips to avoid becoming a victim of a phone scam such as “spoofing.”
Tips include never giving out personal information such as account numbers, Social Security numbers, mother’s maiden names, passwords or other identifying information in response to unexpected calls or if you are at all suspicious.
If you get an inquiry from someone who says they represent a company or a government agency seeking personal information, hang up and call the phone number on your account statement, in the phone book or on the company’s or government agency’s website to verify the authenticity of the request.
Use caution if you are being pressured for information immediately.
If you have a voice mail account with your phone service, be sure to set a password for it. Some voicemail services are preset to allow access if you call in from your own phone number. A hacker could “spoof” your home phone number and gain access to your voice mail if you do not set a password.